We all want our pets to be as healthy as possible. Many families view their animals as part of the family. In the age of information, more and more pet care tips are at our fingertips, but sometimes well-meaning advice can be misguided, or even flat-out false. Here are the top nine veterinary myths I’ve heard from my clients:
1. Pets are Very Affordable
Taking care of an animal is a huge responsibility, not only in terms of time and commitment, but financially as well. Estimates for the annual cost of pet care can range widely from lower estimates around $800 per year, to thousands. And that’s for a healthy pet. Veterinary care can be very costly. Even routine care, such as annual exams and vaccines can sometimes be difficult for pet owners to afford. This is why I am a huge advocate of pet insurance. Pet owners should consider cat and dog insuranceas a way to ensure their pets receive the medical attention it needs in the case of an unforeseen illness or accident. Having pet health insurance may help the pet owner provide the best care to their pet, without having to worry about financial strain.
2. Bones and Crunchy Food Prevent Dental Disease
Most veterinarians are in agreement that animal bones are not a good treat for dogs. Not only do they not prevent dental disease, but they can splinter and cause significant GI issues. However, specifically formulated dental rawhides or dental treats designed for dental health can be helpful by neutralizing bacteria causing plaque and ‘scraping’ the teeth as the dog chews.
The thought that crunchy dog food helps ‘scrape’ the teeth, removing plaque as the dog chews isn’t really true either. Most diets have a kibble that is too small, or crumbles too quickly when chewed, to really provide any significant dental benefits. It is true that prescription dental diets formulated with larger kibble pieces and are exceptionally hard, require more chewing can aid in removing plaque and promoting a healthy mouth. In addition, most prescription dental diets have ingredients that help neutralize plaque causing bacteria, preventing it from turning into tartar.
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3. Cats Always Land on Their Feet
As outlined in Dr. Matheys’ cat blog, it is true that cats are very agile creatures with a great sense of balance, but this myth shouldn’t be tested! Cats can injure themselves just like the rest of us. They can fall, stumble and even hurt themselves leaping from high places.
4. A Warm Nose Means Your Dog is Sick
Or a dry nose, or cold nose, or wet nose… The temperature and moistness of your dog’s nose can change drastically through the day and isn’t a reliable indicator of your pet’s well being. A dog that has just gone for a walk in the summer heat will undoubtedly have a warmer, dryer nose than the dog that just had a drink of cool water. A better indication of whether your dog is sick is to look for changes in behavior or appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or any other common symptoms seen with illness.
5. My Pet Can’t Have Fleas While Wearing a Flea Collar
Flea collars are not effective at preventing fleas over the animal’s whole body. While they can be somewhat effective at preventing fleas around the animal’s neck, a prescription flea product is needed to keep the whole body free of flea infestation.
6. Microchips Cause Cancer
This is false. There are no studies linking microchips to cancer in dogs. Microchips are an invaluable way to identify pets found without collars.
7. Dogs are Carnivores and Should Only Eat Meat
Dogs are actually omnivores, meaning they eat a little of everything. A diet of only meat will be deficient in many nutrients necessary for overall health. Most veterinarians recommend feeding a good quality commercial balanced diet, which will provide carbohydrates from grains or vegetables in addition to protein from meat sources.
8. Indoor-Only Animals Don’t Need to See a Veterinarian Annually
It is true that indoor only animals, such as cats, are less prone to injuries and parasites that often necessitate a visit to the veterinarian, but an annual exam is still crucial to your pet’s well being. Veterinarians are trained to spot potential health problems that you might not be able to see, especially in older pets. For example, your veterinarian might notice that your kitty has lost a pound; a small enough amount that you didn’t notice, but enough that it could indicate an underlying problem such as hyperthyroidism.
9. One year of a Dog’s Life Equals 7 Human Years
It is an unfortunate truth that our pets age faster than we do, but pets don’t all age at the same rate. Small breed dogs and cats tend to outlive their giant breed counterparts. Thus a 10-year-old Chihuahua would be a different human age equivalent than, say a 10-year-old Great Dane. Using that example, the Chihuahua might be an equivalent of roughly 55 years, while the Great Dane would be closer to 80 human years!
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